Updated 9 March 2022
Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.
We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. The test design and parameters were drawn up by someone who works professionally with make-up. At least three people with different skin types and of different ages then tested the products under different conditions. In the test, we based our assessment of the products on the parameters below:
Results and durability: What’s it like to apply the rest of your base make-up when you’ve used the primer? To what extent does the primer smooth out your skin and give an attractive final result? How well does your make-up stay put after using primer? Do you need to top it up during the day?
Skincare: Does the primer contain any skincare ingredients? Does the primer contain sun protection?
Consistency: What’s the consistency of the primer like? Is it easy to apply? Is it economical? What different skin types does it suit?
Packaging and scent: Is the packaging suitable for the product? Does the packaging mean it’s easy to use the right amount of primer? Does the primer have any scent?
The test period lasted three weeks and our reviews are based on the overall experience of the product. This is then compared to the product price to determine value for money and allocate a final score.
The primer for a natural smoothing effect
Smoother skin? Lines that don’t look as deep? Make-up that lasts right through the working day instead of just up to lunchtime? Smaller-looking pores? Sound like an impossible dream? Not at all. With the Skin to Die For primer from Peter Thomas Roth, all of the above are totally possible.
This slightly thicker primer is incredibly easy to apply (but make sure you shake the bottle first). Squeeze out a small amount into your hand and apply to your face. Either before your make-up or on top of it. Not got time for make-up today? Well, this primer works really well on its own to give a more polished result.
When you use this primer from Peter Thomas Roth (or PTR, as it’s sometimes abbreviated), it’s like living in an Instagram filter. Just the right amount of filter, not one that blurs everything and makes you look like a plastic doll. Your skin still looks alive, just a bit less affected by the years that have passed.
For make-up it provides an excellent base. Some primers have a tendency to roll off, but not this one. Which is fortunate, because if a primer forms little rolls it counteracts the entire point of trying to even out your skin. Instead this product simply becomes one with your skin – it actually feels like you haven’t applied anything. And of course this is a big plus, because heavy skin care products are something we can all do without.
Peter Thomas Roth Skin to Die For is a primer that’ll probably become a staple of your make-up bag if you’re a primer fan.
Luxury primer that gives an almost perfect resul
Hourglass is a luxury brand with prices that may make your jaw drop – but their products always deliver what they promise. And Veil Mineral Primer is no exception.
Just a tiny amount goes a long way. After applying (you should ideally pat it in for the best result) it’s as if your skin is covered with a flattering film that reduces shininess and leaves your skin smooth and ready for the rest of your make-up. There’s no doubt that this is a primer in the upper price segment.
But you still get good value for your money as it doesn’t only do its job – it’s also economical. It doesn’t always pay to skimp on applying your make-up, but when you apply Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer you really can do just that. Particularly as you haven’t been tight with your money.
Generous quantity of primer with a nice texture that gives your skin good sun protection
This is a soft and pleasant primer that feels like a luxury skin cream. The consistency is relatively light and it dries quickly. It sinks in easily and evens out the surface, although not the biggest pores. It also fills small wrinkles and works very well under the eyes where many people get dryness lines. It hangs onto concealer and foundation and keeps your base in place for a long time. The finish is matte and it’s great on greasy skin – but remember that you’ll need to apply powder after a couple of hours if you’re very oily. It gets plus points for the sun protection factor! The bottle contains a full 40 ml, which makes it very good value for money.
Primer with niacinamide that gives glow and an attractive base
This gel-based primer doesn’t simply give your make-up a good base, it also perks up your skin with a great dose of glow.
Makethemake Niacinamide Soft-Focus Primer has a light and convenient gel formula that quickly gives your skin a silky smooth feel. This primer contains silicon dioxide, which both provides a protective base for the skin and also creates a beautiful pink shimmer. But this is a shimmer that’s in no way glittery. Instead it simply gives the skin a very glowy base that’s so unobtrusive you’d almost believe it was natural. Almost!
The primer is easy to apply and you can do this either with your fingers or using a primer brush. Your skin develops an immediate glow and also looks a bit smoother. When you then apply your make-up over the top, it’s clear that you’ve done your groundwork. Your make-up looks more even and it lasts for longer. Our testers had no problem with products applied over the primer rolling off the face, which can be the case with some primers.
This is a great, good value primer that’s well worth spending your money on.
A primer that will keep your eye shadow in place whatever the weather
A primer doesn’t need to focus on your entire face – it can be intended just for a smaller area. And as the name implies, Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion is exactly this. Despite the fact that it’s been around for a while, there’s actually no other eye shadow primer that does such a good job as this magical cream.
You apply it to the eyelid before the rest of your make-up. After you've left it to dry for a couple of minutes, you can apply your eye make-up as usual. Not only will your eye shadow be more even with this as a base, the colour will be more intense and your make-up will stay in place all day and night without moving in the slightest. There’s quite simply no better way to get even, attractive and long lasting eye make-up.
Very durable primer with high sun protection factor and skincare ingredients
The tube has a narrow opening, almost like a pipette, which makes it easy to get the right amount. The consistency is thick and it takes a little while to rub it in. The primer is mineral-based and lightly tinted, but doesn’t cover your skin tone – simply adds a fresh glow. The ingredients include caring antioxidants and peptides that improve your skin – and the primer also provides a high sun protection factor. Unfortunately it also contains lavender oil which sensitive skin can react to. The biggest advantage of this primer is that it makes your make-up last significantly longer – in fact best of all the primers we tested. But the base was also more difficult to remove. Some of our testers also found it gave too much cover and felt heavy with foundation on top and preferred to wear it on its own without base.
Primer with lots of lustre that makes your base last longer and look better
The primer is silicone-based and has a light and lotion-like consistency that’s soft and smooth to apply. It provides glow and prepares your skin nicely for your foundation. Your skin looks more even and more moisturised. Contains caring ingredients such as liquorice root. The foundation lasts longer and looks better with this primer underneath. Despite having a little shimmer in it, it also suits greasier skin types (but the primary function isn’t to control shine, so if you have combination skin you may need to mattify your face during the day).
It’s easy to get the right amount out of the pump bottle, but after we used about half of the contents the pump part broke. Unfortunately not very economical and the small bottle ran out quickly.
Primer that keeps greasy skin under control
This primer, which comes in a compact with a mirror, doesn’t only work as a primer – it also controls shine by absorbing excess oil.
Of course, Jane Iredale aren’t alone in having a primer packed as a creamy cake, but this definitely isn’t standard among primers. Even if you may first be a bit surprised, this type of formula is easy to use. You use the sponge included to apply the primer before the rest of your base. It produces silky-smooth skin that definitely feels like it’s been mattified. And your face also stays more free of shine during the day, exactly as promised by Jane Iredale Absence Oil Control Primer.
After using this primer, the pores look smaller too, which is useful for those with visible pores. The result is so good and so soft that our testers sometimes used it entirely on its own without any foundation on top, as a quick “fix me up”. It works well like this, but you need to make sure you take the compact with you to top it up during the afternoon.
The disadvantage is that the application sponge quickly begins to look tired and dirty. Of course you can wash it, but let’s be honest – many of us are already pretty sloppy about keeping our make-up tools clean.
But overall this is a good primer. We’d have liked to see more of a smoothing effect from it, but on the other hand it works really well when it comes to controlling shine – so it’s all about what’s most important to you.
Silky smooth feel for a good price
The Balm timeBalm Face Primer comes in a cute little 30 ml tube, which is a good size for a make-up bag. You apply the skin with your fingers and it’s easy to work into the skin. TimeBalm Face Primer is a silicone based product that fills out pores and unevenness and gives a silky smooth result. The product absorbs oil in the skin and leaves it matte but also has a moisturising effect. It takes a few minutes for the primer to dry. If you apply your make-up immediately, the products easily blur into each other. The main purpose of a primer is to extend the durability of your make-up, which this product manages to a certain extent. But you may need to touch up your make-up at the end of the day or in the small hours. Some other primers offer sun protection factor, which timeBalm Face Primer lacks. This is a real shame, as this primer evens out your skin so well that you could otherwise have used it on its own. Despite the lack of sun protection, it feels like you get a lot of product for your money with The Balm timeBalm Face Primer.
Primer that effectively smooths your skin while extending the durability of your base
This is a silicone-based primer with a firm, almost putty-like consistency that smooths your skin in a single sweep. Pores and wrinkles disappear under a silky smooth bed and the sheer pinkish pigment gives your skin a discreet glow. So you don’t have to put your fingers in the jar, which can lead to bacterial build up, you get a little spatula. The formula is economical and you only need a small amount for your entire face. When it comes to the surface it produces and how long it lasts, it’s also among the very best in our test. But it’s expensive, because the jar only contains 15 ml (the other primers have an average of 30 ml). Nor does the formula contain any extra skincare ingredients, which you’d expect in this price category.
Cheap primer with a silky smooth texture
This silicon-based primer is completely transparent and has a silky smooth texture. Unfortunately the formula tends to separate, producing a watery yet lumpy consistency. The list of ingredients is short and it only contains silicones and a few minerals – unfortunately no skincare ingredients. The primer smooth out the skin surface, but in terms of durability it didn’t really live up to our expectations. On greasy skin the shine quickly came through again and left our tester feeling even more sticky than without primer. And watch out, because the same primer series includes a green and a purple primer, which are intended to neutralise skin tones but instead just make your skin a strange colour. Overall, this is a below-average primer that neither the camera nor your skin will love.
A primer is a thin base you apply before foundation – it evens out your skin tone, fills in wrinkles, reduces your pores, helps your base glide on more easily and then keeps your make-up in place for longer. Choose a primer based on your skin type, because many products work as an extension of your skincare routine and can help with things like greasy or dry skin. If you have greasy skin, the best type is a mousse-like consistency with sebum-absorbing ingredients for a matte result.
Dry or more mature skin best suits a liquid primer that moisturises and adds glow. If you have combination skin you can use different primers, for example a mattifying one in the T-zone and one that adds glow on your cheeks. As well as optically evening out the surface of the skin, many primers help improve your skin, and sun protection and caring antioxidants have received a higher score in the test.
“Blur” is a trendy word in base make-up generally, and many primers have now been replaced with blurring primers. But these are generally thicker than normal primers, almost always silicone-based and lightly tinted.
Allow your moisturiser to sink into your skin before you apply primer. Massage the primer in over your whole face, or where you think you need it, and allow it to dry for a few minutes before you start with foundation and concealer. If you want natural-looking skin, you can just use primer and skip the rest of your base make-up. Another type of primer that’s intended for eye shadow is used on the eyelids. Some primers can also be applied over your make-up as a touch up during the day, instead of powder.